By a 6-3 vote, the Birmingham City Council on Tuesday gave UAB its first win of 2018. The city council has agreed to commit $3 million a year over the next 30 years toward an economic development package that includes a downtown football stadium.
“This is the right thing to do because it has a full benefit for our entire city,” mayor Randall Woodfin told AL.com.
UAB has said it needs $175 million to complete its new stadium, which was helped over the weekend by a new tax law approved by the state legislature.
“We continue to be encouraged by the steps taken by both state and local leadership in relation to the proposed renovations at the BJCC,” UAB AD Mark Ingram said in a statement. “Mayor Woodfin, the City Council, Jefferson County, the BJCC, State Legislators and community leaders have worked together to make this happen. The renovations will continue to grow our city and we are excited to be a part of it.”
The stadium would hold up to 55,000 people and have space for meetings and exhibitions. UAB currently plays in the 71,000-seat Legion Field, which opened in 1927.
It’s hard to believe that prior to last season, UAB didn’t have a football team for two years. As successful as the Blazers re-launch in the sport has been though, the next step for the program to truly be competitive in the sports landscape might have just happened on the desk of the governor this week.
AL.com notes that Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed a new tax law for Jefferson County that would provide a significant sum of money for a new UAB football stadium as well as other improvements to the sprawling Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex (BJCC) that already houses the arena for the program’s basketball teams.
Though there has been no contractual commitment to build the stadium just yet, the passing of the tax bill to provide some of the revenues needed is one of the first steps local leaders were hoping for. Current plans have the authorities responsible looking at building a 45,000-55,000 seat stadium for UAB football at an estimated cost of $175 million. The school is expected to chip in nearly $4 million a year toward the cost in lease payments.
It’s unclear as to the exact site of the potential stadium but it is expected to be in the downtown area somewhere near the current BJCC complex. It goes without saying that any new stadium, even an off campus such as this one, would be a massive upgrade from the Blazers current home Legion Field.
With the new law out of the way, the next steps appear to reside with local authorities to finalize plans and firmly commit to building the new venue. Construction on the new stadium is expected to begin in December of 2018 once the final green light is given.
Needless to say, UAB football is not only back but it certainly appears better than ever given this recent bit of news.
Nick Gentry is returning to his home state of Alabama yet again.
UAB announced Thursday that Gentry has been hired by Bill Clark as the Blazers’ new outside linebackers coach. As Gentry is the football program’s 10th assistant, Clark’s coaching staff is once again at capacity.
The two have a previous working relationship as Clark was Gentry head coach at Prattville (Ala.) High School
“Nick is an excellent fit for our program and for the players he will be coaching,” Clark said in a statement. “He brings championship experience as a player and a coach and is going to be a major asset for UAB football.”
Gentry played his college football for the Alabama Crimson Tide from 2007-11. His first coaching job came in 2012 as a defensive analyst at Tennessee. The past five seasons have been spent at FCS Jacksonville State, the last four of those as the coach of both the Gamecocks’ outside linebackers coach and defensive ends.
“I am thankful for the opportunity to be coaching here at UAB and am excited to work with a great staff and a group of hungry players who are driven to win championships,” Gentry said. “The success this program had in its first year back was truly remarkable and I am motivated to help elevate the expectations as a national contender year-in and year-out.”
Les Koenning wasn’t out of a job for very long.
In early January, it was reported that Koenning would not be returning to his post as the offensive coordinator at UAB. Two months later, the Hattiesburg American is reporting that Koenning is expected to be added to Jay Hopson‘s Southern Miss coaching staff.
In what capacity Koenning would serve is unclear.
Koenning had spent the past two seasons as the coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the Blazers. In addition to his time in Birmingham, he’s also served as a coordinator at Alabama (2001-02), Texas A&M (2003-07) and Mississippi State (2009-13).
In addition to Koenning’s impending hiring, the American also reports that Hopson is expected to add Brock Hays to his 10-man on-field staff. Hays spent the past two seasons as running backs coach at FCS Nicholls State.
As is the case with Koenning, Hay’s responsibilities are unknown.
Bill Clark has reached back to the past for the future of his UAB offense.
Friday, the Blazers announced that Bryant Vincent has been hired by Clark to serve as his offensive coordinator. Vincent, who will also take over as the Blazers’ quarterbacks coach, had previously spent one record-setting season guiding UAB’s offense in 2014.
“Bryant’s familiarity with UAB and Birmingham will make for a seamless transition as our offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach,” a statement from Clark began. “The offense in 2014 thrived under his direction and we are excited to hit the ground running with an experienced group heading into the 2018 season.”
Vincent began his FBS coaching career at South Alabama from 2011-13 before moving on to UAB the first time. After that one-year stint that lasted just one year because the administration killed off the program before bringing it back months later, Vincent went back to USA as co-offensive coordinator and assistant head coach; in late September of last year, Vincent was fired by the Jaguars after a little over two years on the job.
“We are more than excited to be back at UAB and part of Blazer Nation,” Vincent said. “Coach Clark and his staff have accomplished unbelievable things here. I look forward to being a part of that championship environment daily and taking the next step together. My family is very appreciative of Coach Clark and Jennifer and we can’t wait to begin.”
It was announced in early January that Les Koenning would not be returning as coordinator and quarterbacks coach, opening the door for Bryant’s return.